Updated May 14, 2023

Belgian Owl Whisky: serving mankind and the earth

By Shana Devleschoudere
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A story like no other...

"It all started with our Master Distiller, Etienne Bouillon, and his crazy dream of creating a Single Malt that was 100% Belgian, but even more so, 100% Hesbignon. Respect for the terroir, and by extension for our planet, is the driving force behind our philosophy. The owl emblem was therefore an obvious choice: a symbol of knowledge and wisdom, this predatorless animal would become the brand's totem: it takes knowledge to make Belgian Owl and wisdom to enjoy it...".

The adventure began at 11 a.m. on October 29, 2004, when the first cask of Belgian Owl Whisky was filled. After three long years of maturation in Bourbon casks, as required by the European appellation, the first Belgian Owl Whisky Single Malt could be tasted.

Not just any Whisky

Only two ingredients are needed to make a Single Malt Whisky: water and barley. B.O.W.'s barley is grown exclusively in the rich Hesbaye Terroir by farmers who work in sustainable agriculture and fair trade partnerships. This two-row barley of the Sebastianfo variety gives BelgianOwl the delicate fruity and floral aromas of its Terroir. The other essential ingredient of this quality whisky is water. The well beside the distillery extracts water from the water table at a depth of 38 metres. Beneath the thick layer of silt lies a slice of limestone more than 20 metres thick. With its rare purity, the minerality of this water enables the full expression of Belgian Owl Whisky's aromatic palette.

A true partnership with farmers 

From the outset, Belgian Owl has been determined to showcase not only its terroir, but also the women and men who work it. Barley is traded according to the principle of fair trade. The price of barley is set by mutual agreement and compared with the price on the international grain exchange. If the exchange price is higher than the agreed price, we match the higher price. It's a genuine production premium system that systematically exceeds the stock market price, enabling farmers to earn a decent living while producing quality barley.

Respectful, reasoned cultivation

The magic begins on the fields where two-row spring barley is grown. Strips of grass several metres wide run alongside the crop fields, where nature expresses itself: all kinds of grasses, flowers, plants, insects and their natural predators thrive. Thanks to this natural balance, farmers can limit the use of inputs. With the same aim of maintaining the richness of the silt, barley is grown only once every four years on the same plots: this is how the principle of crop rotation is supported.

A controlled production chain

"Our company's aim is to control the production chain from A to Z: planting and cultivation comply with extremely precise specifications, which our partner farmers put into practice for the whisky program. Small farms are favored in this program in order to reach a maximum number of local partners and create direct and indirect employment. What's more, when it comes to harvest time, the right moments are rare: having several small plots enables us to carry out a more optimized and efficient harvest according to the weather, and thus preserve the quality of the barley. For example, the year 2021 was full of ups and downs due to incessant rain. The harvest had to be carried out in two stages to be sure of preserving the quality of the barley. The story began with a few 1 0 hectares and continues next year ... with over 350 hectares!"

" Our ambition is to make the Belgian Owl brand one of the top 5 Single Malt Whisky brands in the world by value over the next 5 years. Export will be the main pillar of our development, and we plan to be distributed in the most buoyant markets by the end of 2022."

Contacts are underway with potential partners in over 30 countries, and advanced discussions are currently taking place in Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Sweden and Brazil. The Global Travel Retail (duty-free) market, which has suffered since the start of the pandemic, but is set to make a strong comeback in the coming months with the reopening of borders, will also be a major focus of B.O.W.'s global conquest in the medium term...

To promote its brand, Belgian Owl Whisky sought the right partner to become its brand ambassador. Consistency of values and spirit remained essential conditions for a partnership, while respecting the brand's disruptive nature. That's when their paths crossed: Morgane Ursault-Poupon, a sailor who has competed in major sailing races, created her own foundation, "Upsailing", to fight pollution of the seas and oceans. In keeping with the spirit of the owl, B.O.W. decided to sail the seas alongside her... Through their muse, they emphasize their values of respect for mankind and the planet: " The choice of a female muse in a profession considered 'masculine' seemed obvious to us. Contrary to popular belief, women are enthusiastic whisky drinkers.

More info on their website HERE